“If we don’t have a recovery, I’m going to be doing something else – that’s my forecast for 2002. I felt like the recovery would start this fall, but we’re planning a stabilizing effort, trying to keep our head above the water. We’re not planning on expansion. I think there will be another round of failures. There will be fewer of us around in 2002, but hopefully that will push prices up to compensatory levels for the equipment we’re using.”
– Don Cox, president
Southwestern Express Inc., Oklahoma City
“I feel positive about it, but I don’t know what more I can say. I know it’s going to be a little difficult. We just have to pull up our bootstraps and get to work. I think that two things are going to improve this next year: the attitudes of drivers and company owners. Humility is a pretty good dose to improve your attitude. We’re starting to see the driver pool fill up. We’re going to roll up our shirt sleeves, dig in and make it work.”
– Andy Lott, vice president
Arlo G. Lott Trucking Inc., Jerome, Idaho
“We’re pretty positive. We haul feed ingredients like grain, so we’re not tied to the same issues as LTL and general freight haulers. We’re a bulk carrier – we have hopper-bottom trailers. I’m confident we’ll meet last year’s projections and hopefully do a little better. I’m not pessimistic. Things should be stabilized by the end of the year. It hasn’t slowed down yet for us. We had a dreadful week toward the end of September. We’ve never had a week like that in late September before. I think it was a combination of people worrying about us going to war and the World Trade Center catastrophe. It really hit us that week, but we quickly returned to normal.”
– Brad Belcher, vice president
E.W. Belcher Trucking Co., Sanger, Texas
“I think we’re going to see continued struggles for the first quarter. After that, the market will start to rebound. It’s very difficult for some companies to make it. There is going to be an increase in fuel prices – we all know it’s coming. Coupled with the cost of insurance, and with the marginal basis trucking companies are operating on, many are not going to make it. Good drivers are always a premium, but I see the driver market loosening as companies continue to go out of business. If there ever was a time to take advantage of no debt, and quality drivers, now is the time to do it. Crete has been that way for years. It’s paying off now better than ever before. We’re optimistic.”
– Kerri Kearl, vice president of operations
Crete Carrier Corporation, Omaha, Neb.
“Actually, what we’re hoping for, and we’re making an educated guess based on what we’ve read and gathered, is that things will start turning around midway through the second and the beginning of the third quarter in 2002. I’m optimistic and hopeful. In fact, I’m looking forward to it. There is usually about three months lag time after a war starts that it boosts our industry. There always seems to be a ripple effect.”
– Jim McKinny, president
Davis Transport, Missoula, Mont.
“My business forecast is lousy. We’re both a trucking company and a logistics company. The logistics tends to be more stable and profitable. The trucking is not doing so well. A good part of the reason is because manufacturing went into recession the second half of 2000. That really affected us. We’ve gone from 95 drivers, all independent operators, to 50 in the space of a one-year period. The last I heard, 35,000 owner-operators have gone out of business since 2000. Given that fact – and I’ve talked to another large trucking company that took quite a hit in the number of independent operators – a lot of guys just can’t make it anymore. There is plenty of business for trucking, but finding independent contractors to drive is tough. My forecast for next year is that it won’t be until the middle of next year before things really start to get better. The first quarter is bad for every trucking company. I don’t expect it to be a really good year.”
– Ron Williamson, president
RJW Transport Inc., Bloomingdale, Ill.